Being Beautiful: High kicks and modest kisses in a winter wonderland

I’m dreaming of a White Christmas, even though technically I have already had one.

We saw Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” at the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans last week, and that’s probably about as close to snow as I am going to get this holiday season, although we did wake up to a beautiful and unexpected blanket of sublime white powdery moisture in Vicksburg a couple of weeks ago.

I confess I am one of those rare people, until I watched the movie start to finish earlier this month and saw the wonderful production in New Orleans, who had never really understood the sense of nostalgic euphoria which comes over certain family members and friends as they speak with hushed reverence about this Yuletide classic. For me, it had always been background noise at holiday gatherings when my interests led me more toward conversation and peanut butter cookies, but now I know what all the fuss is about.

It’s a story about hope and generosity, magic and loyalty and the simpler pleasures we all miss from quieter, more innocent days gone by. Rosemary Clooney indeed earns the title “America’s Girl Singer” which followed her throughout her career, and Vera-Ellen must have had the tiniest waist in show business. Watching her dance with Danny Kaye, I am reminded of that famous line which was spoken about Ginger Rogers, but applies readily here:  that she did everything Fred Astaire did, except backwards and in high heels.

And then there’s Bing Crosby, who isn’t exactly a light weight entertainer either in the role of Bob Wallace. We root for him to win the love of Clooney’s character, and we wonder what is coming next as he wins it, seems to lose it, and then wins it again. When she puts that figurine of the knight sitting astride a horse in his Christmas stocking, we somehow know everything will be all right.

All of this wonder is accomplished without any sex scenes or profane language in a movie which could easily earn a “G” rating and that you would be pleased for your youngest grandchild to enjoy. I am no prude and will probably take in some “R” rated movies this season as well, but I confess it was nice to visit rural Vermont with two pairs of “lovers” who take it as slowly as the buttermilk they drink with their midnight snacks.

It reminds us of a time, a moment in time perhaps, which to me at least seems almost lost, a time when Danny Kaye’s boy was charmingly too shy to kiss Vera-Ellen’s girl. And when he finally got up his nerve, he knew a kiss was as far as it was going to go.

Eventually it snowed in the movie after I spent almost two hours afraid it would not. Yes, I am dreaming of a White Christmas, not only for the snow, but for the sense of idealism and innocence which came down with every flake.

Contact David at [email protected].